Foodie Fashion: Being a Boss with Lipgloss

I have a few vices. Wine, food, and ice cream are just a few of them. However, I’ve also got a soft spot for lipsticks, lip stains, and lip glosses. In an effort to be a better person, I try to make these vices as healthy as possible. I’m not going to give up wine anytime soon, so I’m trying to clean up my make-up routine instead. As I read up on how make-up is made, I learned that essentially everything major companies put into their products is terrible. Yet not all brands are bad, and I’ve found a few that produce safer make-up that still lasts. Recently, one of my favorite green make-up distributors, Citrine Natural Beauty Bar ran a promo that included a bag filled with both sample and full-sized products with any purchase. I am a sucker for a promo, and as I am still swapping out some of my big brands for cleaner ones, samples are a great way for me to test products out without putting too much of my money down. One of the goodies I received was a lip gloss from Jane Iredale, and I liked it enough to mention it here.

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Called “Iced Mocha,” this lip gloss is great for a subtle look. It boosts the look of your natural lips with a soft rosy color and adds just enough shine to keep it fun. It keeps a slightly tacky feel throughout the day, which means this isn’t for you matte lovers out there. But if you like some shine, add this one to your wishlist for the upcoming holidays to complete your look! You won’t have to worry about getting lipstick all over your face as you inhale your second serving of mashed potatoes, and it doesn’t get much better than that. Happy Holidays!

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Memorable Mondays: Fantasia

It’s been a bit since I’ve done one of these. For those of you newer to my blog, I have done Memorable Mondays about everything from Persian Thanksgiving to my love of ice cream. Half of what makes food such a powerful topic is that it is intrinsically tied to memory, and that brings up strong emotions in just about anyone. What prompted me to bring my Memorable Monday posts back to life wasn’t necessarily a food, but the Disney movie Fantasia.

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Although I am a Disney lover and own a copy of Fantasia on both VHS and DVD, it’s not the movie I always pop in when I am craving some animation. Those choice are normally Aladdin, Peter Pan, or Beauty and the Beast. However, I recently had the urge to watch this classic that is as well known for its music as it is for its little dancing mushrooms. The centaur part has always been my favorite besides those mushrooms, but I noticed something this time around that I am 100% sure I never picked up on as a kid: the destruction of wine.

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]The scene starts off beautifully with centaur, unicorns, and a whole host of other brightly colored animals getting the party started before Bacchus arrives. Of course, Bacchus and wine go together like a bagel and lox. These scenes from Fantasia probably are the reason why I thought you stomped wine to make it until I was a teen. Once he’s thrown into the mix though, the G-rated party gets rowdier as he chases after centaur girls and shares wine with every animal he comes across. Then Zeus comes to ruin all the fun.

Party is Over

While I 100% had no clue who Bacchus was at the ripe age of eight, I am old enough now to say R.I.P. to all that wine that Zeus destroys. While Bacchus is too cool to let this cramp his style, and a river of wine does sound kind of appealing, I still blame Zeus for trying to stop all the fun. He’s like a friend that has such bad FOMO he won’t let anyone enjoy anything without him. So, now that you’re probably an adult, next time you watch Fantasia try and emulate Bacchus (though you may want to show a little more restraint than he does) and send a curse up to Zeus for ruining the party. Life’s too short to stomp on everyone’s enjoyment.

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Thirsty Thursday: Fall Jams

When making cocktails at home, I like simple recipes where I don’t need to layer anything, figure out how to use egg whites, or spend twenty minutes trying to decipher the recipe. That’s why the majority of my Thirsty Thursday posts are basic, but I also think they are good. In general, they tend toward the sweeter side, and while I’d like to experiement with that a bit more in the future, this one falls into that category as well. I was inspired by the Absolut My Jam recipe I found when researching how to use Orgeat Syrup. If you want something more tart, up how much lime juice you use and lower the amount of almond syrup you pour. This is a fun one for the transition into the autumn weather we are finally getting, so make it on a fifty degree day with a scarf on and some pumpkins on your doorstep. You can’t get much more basic than that.

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Fall Jams

Yield: 1 cocktail

2 tsp. of blueberry jam (I like Bonne Maman)

1 tsp. of apple butter

1 oz. of Orgeat syrup

3/4 oz. of lime juice

2 oz. of Absolut vodka

five or six fresh blueberries, optional as garnish

jam jar, cleaned, optional

 

1. If using a jam jar, fill with ice. If using standard glass, grab a cocktail shaker and fill with ice.

3. Measure out and pour almond syrup, lime juice, and vodka directly into jam jar or shaker. Top with jam and apple butter.

4. If using jam jar, use the lid to cover the cocktail and shake for about ten seconds before removing lid. Or, use shaker and strain into glass. Top with fresh blueberries. Enjoy. 

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#WineStudio: Some Libations and Celebrations

Over the course of this year, we’ve had everything from Riesling to Tempranillo with #WineStudio, the weekly Twitter get-together that’s all about wine education. When it came to the most recent session, it highlighted this little thing you may have heard of called Prosecco. We kicked off September with Nino Franco, a winery founded in 1919 by Antonio Franco in Valdobbiadene, Italy. One of the oldest wineries in this Venetian region, the estate has seen four generations of producers. The coolest thing about the wines we tried is that they all are 100% Glera, a grape which has only claimed this name since 2009. Throughout #WineStudio, we have tasted the same grape from different wineries, grapes from the same region, and a varied few bottles from the same winery; however, I have never done a session where we tasted the same grape from the same producer, and it was a great way to underscore how one varietal from the same appellation can result in such distinct wines. If you didn’t participate, you only have to read about these four I tried to see that this is true.

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I will unashamedly open a bottle at 11 a.m. if it’s my day off, and that’s what I did with this first bottle, the Rustico Prosecco Superiore. There was nice creamy texture here that added some depth to the yeasty, fruity, and citrusy flavors that abounded inside the glass. I pulled out a slice of homemade Persian flatbread and threw some whipped cream cheese, capers, tomato, red onion, and lox on it. Yes, we know all probably know that bubbles go well with most seafood, particularly oysters on the half shell, but I had never tried it like this. It was a simple, smart choice for my first pairing; just the way I like it. The winery let us know during the Twitter discussion that this was their most popular bottle, and with the SRP of $19 and the great flavor profile of this one, I can see why. It was my favorite, and a great way to start the two months we would be spending on all things bubbles.

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Then, my five day work week turned into a week where I worked nine days in a row, and all my energy went towards just getting my second bottle open. The Brut Prosecco Superiore was very pale in color with flavors that were somewhat sweet with a balancing level of acid. The best part was the dozens of small bubbles that gave this a very light, celebratory feel. If you like the apple or pear or generally fruity profile often associated with Prosecco yet also want something with a bit of linger to it, this is an easy to drink option that demands only your enjoyment. This one is priced slightly above the average Prosecco with an SRP of $27, but it’s worth the few extra dollars. Don’t pass it up.

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The third bubbly I opened was the Primo Franco Prosecco Superiore, a sweeter option that appealed to my grandmother’s tastes more than my own. As soon as I had people try this one, they commented the softness of it. There were aromas and flavors of lush, ripe apples like McIntosh with a dash of Granny Smith. Fruity and creamy and smooth, there was still some complexity here that kept this one fun. With an SRP of $29, bring this one out for a party which includes people that gush about moscato or always stand by the sweets. They’ll enjoy it and even you can sip alongside them without feeling like one gulp contains your daily recommended dosage of sugar.

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The final bottle came wrapped in gold cellophane with the regal sounding name of 2010 Grave di Stecca Brut Sparkling. While we #WineStudio participants were mixed on our thoughts about this presentation, I loved it. Yes, it was cheesy, but it was also a bit of ridiculous fun. Excitedly, I opened it, poured a glass, and brought it up to my lips. Then, I wished I could rip it away because this was not good. Drier than any of the other Nino Franco bottles we had previously opened, odd is the word that comes to mind now when I recall this one.

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The rich, beautiful, marigold color of this wine immediately drew me to the bottle. However, the woodsy aromas and dry taste were not what I was expecting. I had to hunt for the fruit, but there was no denying that there was a fullness to it, some warmth, and eventually flavors of wintery stone fruit with even a hint of pineapple. After some experimenting, I found that this wine absolutely needed food. Most wine tastes better with food, but in general, I am happy to have a glass on it’s own. Do not do that with this one. Whether it’s a cold cut like I chose or tapas or cheeses, have the food on the table before you even open this one. With the heftiest price tag of $49, I would have to say that any basic bubbly drinker should steer clear. It’s not a bottle for the average person, but rather one for someone with an advanced palate that craves the funky stuff.

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The bubbles we tried during this session are way better than the ones your mom poured into the tub when you were a kid. For a lot of my friends, Prosecco are meant to be had when we’re celebrating, yet many of these wines are approachable and affordable. They aren’t just for the holidays or when you get a big promotion or when you get into the college you were hoping for, but they’re for everyday celebrations. Bubbles are worthy of your attention, and these bottles demand it. #WineStudio in November just started and is all about New Jersey wines. So join us over there and check back in a couple of weeks for my thoughts on the other Prosecco we tried before the end of October. Happy drinking!

These wines were kindly provided to me by the winery listed above, but all opinions are my own. 

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Food with the City of Lights

It may make me basic, but I love Paris. Before I visited, I was enamored with the architecture, the language, and the people. After I visited over a Thanksgiving abroad, I was still enamored. I loved how easy the metro was to use. I enjoyed just walking around, even in the frigid temperatures where a scarf, boots, and coat couldn’t fight the chill. One of the best meals I’ve ever had was in a restaurant with maybe eight tables tucked away down an alley in the red light district. My feisty exterior even melted a bit when I saw couples adding their locks to the bridge (fun fact: the original one is in Rome, even though everyone talks about Paris). It’s a city full of promise, as cheesy as that sounds, and it lived up to everything I thought it would be, sparkling Eiffel Tower and all. So, the desire to consume everything from An American in Paris to French guide books when I was younger has grown into even more of a drive to get my hands on anything to do with the city. Recently, I finished The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino, who has lived the life of which I dream. Here are my favorite quotes. After you’re done reading, close your eyes and picture yourself there. It’ll be easy…and cheaper than booking a flight.

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“There are merchants who seduce me with their gastronomic passions: artichokes so young they can be served raw, a Cotes du Rhone so smooth it could be a fine Burgundy, a Mont d’Or cheese so creamy it is best eaten with a spoon.”

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“Picard is a national all-frozen-food supermarket chain with an outlet around the corner. Its frozen red mullet is half the price of the fresh counterpart at La Poissonnerie Bleue, but Picard is viewed with disdain by traditional French cooks. The dirty little secret is that some Picard fish is pas mal, which in French doesn’t mean “not bad”, it actually means pretty good….”

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“At Christmas, when I wrote about chocolate, I brought back dozens of bars from Bonnat, a small chocolate maker near Grenoble, and passed them out like Santa.”

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“Given my family history, I know a lot more about cheese than wine, and more about Italian than French cheese.”

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“He introduced new items, like sweet corn! Corn! The French feed it to animals. The only place I had ever found sweet corn in the neighborhood was at the Picard supermarket, husked, wrapped in plastic, and frozen.”

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“They imported waffle dough from Belgium. Instead of using banal Nutella to make chocolate waffles, the way every other Parisian crêperie and waffle maker seems to do, they stuffed theirs with fine Belgian chocolate.”

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“Every morning, when they open their window, the fragrance of sugar, butter, and vanilla fills the sidewalk.”

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These were the highlights for me, pulling me back to a city that cannot be paralleled. If you get a copy, buy an extra creamy cheese, some lively red wine, and picture yourself on the Rue des Martyrs. The book is easy enough to read in one go or you can pick it up, flip to a chapter and just read. It may not be the best book I’ve ever read about Paris, but it’s one I’ll keep close by when I want a dose of the city. That makes it worth it to me.

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Foodie Fashion: Watermelon for All Year Round

If there is one thing that I own too many of, it’s purses. What started out as one purse occasionally gifted at Christmas when I was maybe twelve or thirteen has expanded out to take up two shelves in my closet. I have little purses, options with cupcakes on them, bags I’ve pilfered from my mother’s collection, and ones into which I could probably fit most of my body. It’s a problem, and although I called a hiatus on all purse purchases over a year ago, I did break my rule in the spring.

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At the Kate Spade Outlet in Delaware, I found a jewel. Shaped like a watermelon, dotted with little black beads representing seeds, and sturdy enough where I don’t freak out anytime my clumsy self bumps into anything, this bag is one of my favorite finds. It’s fun and jazzes up any outfit. It’s also something that not everyone has, which is great because once I run into a dozen people with watermelon purses, the original feel of this one will assuredly wear off as this piece is definitely part fashion and part novelty. The clutch isn’t available any longer, but Kate Spade specializes in the cutesy prints and right now there are a variety of cute things with tacos on them that you can buy. For now, I am resisting the urge to add a hot sauce clutch to my shelves, but I don’t know how strong I will be. I am weak alongside anything that has to do with food and drink, and I doubt that’ll change anytime soon.

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#WineStudio: Feeling Aglow with Arínzano

When I lived in Spain, I hardly ever drank wine. I was in the land of hard cider. Other kids who couldn’t handle the tartness or didn’t like the idea of throwing back an inch of sidra in one gulp drank wine, but I am first and foremost an acidhead, and this delicacy was right up my alley. Sidra and pinchos, particularly salty olives, were what I liked any weeknight, and wine fell to the wayside. I was in the northwest of Spain, but had I known Arínzano wasn’t too far away in the northeast, I may have explored the world of wine a bit more. During a recent #WineStudio, we became acquainted with Hacienda de Arinzano, a company located in Navarra that is the only winery in Spain certified by the World Wildlife Fund for environmental responsibility. As a proud owner of a WWF plush I received for a symbolic animal adoption, I think that last tidbit is pretty cool. Still, the juice is what matters, so read on to see what I thought.

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Although most people, myself included, think of red wines when they think of Spain, I’m going to start with the 2014 Hacienda de Arínzano White. Consisting of 100% Chardonnay, a grape that 100% of people have an opinion about, this was one of those bright bottles with a lot of vivacity to it. If you’ve had a lemon tart, that’s what this wine reminded me of. It had a tartness to it, yet was still honeyed and sweet and buttery, without making me want to gag. I like my whites with a few punches of acid, and luckily, the warmed notes of this one didn’t detract from that. We tasted this alongside the rose I mentioned in my last post, which had a bit more complexity and peppery flavors than this. At $19.99 a bottle, this is a very approachable white that would appeal to people that like Chardonnay with oak and those who like a crisp French style too. Pull it out at the next holiday gathering and see how this goes over. I’m betting it will do well.

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Although we did play with some whites and roses, I came to the Arínzano session excited for the reds. The first one I opened was the 2012 Hacienda de Arínzano Red, which was made up of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The red was a wine that stuck with me. While their white wine was fun and flirty, this was deeper yet still felt young. If the white was Rapunzel from Tangled, this was Jasmine from Aladdin. A little floral, a lot fruity, and fairly easy to pair with anything from hard cheeses to crostini topped with a variety of toppings, this wine was a simple winner. This one also clocks in at $19.99, so a few will please many without costing the same as a villa in Tuscany. I suggest this one as another one to grab for upcoming holiday gatherings where everyone has a different favorite grape. Most will probably agree on the pleasure of this one.

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Now, I’ll say something that most others cannot: Merlot is the wine that got me into wine. The first few times I had wines in restaurants, Merlot was readily available, easy to pronounce, and a wine that I thought I had heard was good once. So, for about a year, Merlot was my red of choice, and although my tastes have expanded since then, Merlot always holds a special place in my heart. While the first red we tried only consisted of 10% Merlot, the 2008 Arínzano La Casona was 75% Tempranillo and 25% Merlot. Arinzano cheekily said during the event that they have one of the best Merlots in Europe, a statement with which I am inclined to believe. This combo was soft yet still had some texture to it with a leathery weight. Dark pitted fruit, a decadent red coloring that would match Hugh Hefner’s many robes, and aromas that reminded me of an old library gave this wine the appearance of being refined, smart, and layered. Going back to my Disney analogy, this one is Belle in the princess lineup. This was a wine I will never forget. Now, part of that may be due to it tasting good, but it also has to do with the fact that I opened this up about an hour before we had a huge storm with a tornado touchdown in our area, which knocked out our power for four days, upturned the umbrella on our patio, and resulted in a tree falling on my sister’s car. R.I.P. both the tree and the car. A memorable wine had during a memorable evening. When I actually poured a glass, it was in our kitchen with the dog sitter helping me watch my grandmother’s dog surrounded by five or six fragrant Yankee Candles and a flashlight pointed up toward the ceiling to provide the most light. It wasn’t how I had pictured sipping on this wine, but it made all the more impact on me for that reason. The SRP for this bottle is $39.99, so if you decide to drop forty dollars on this bottle, spend the time to decant it, enjoy it, and find friends who would appreciate it. This is not for your grandmother that only drinks Moscato.

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At this point, I drink a lot of wine. There are wines that I try that are not so good. Others which I can appreciate the skillful work put in without loving them. As well as some that I adore. The Hacienda de Arínzano wines are solid wines that you could pull out any day without breaking the bank. They are fun, tasty, and don’t require a ton of brooding over what they mean. In other words, they’re perfect for these days that are cooling off that make you yearn for wine that has weight yet still has remnants of a breezy summer day. If you pick up some bottles, let me know if you agree!

These wines were kindly provided to me by the winery listed above, but all opinions are my own. 

 

 

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